The Margay: A Feline Friend of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest

Photo credit: Francis Joyce

Imagine you are walking the trails of Bajo del Tigre, the Children Eternal Rainforest’s reserve on the Monteverde plateau that  includes steep river gorge slopes and forests that were pastureland only decades ago.  Dense rainy season clouds and the leafy canopy overhead cast a green shadow on the understory.  You hear the piercing, raucous cries of brown jays, intelligent  social birds.  Acting as sentinels of the forest, brown jays are known to give alarm calls alerting each other to the presence of predators. The calls are relentless, and as you approach you notice that the birds are directing their attention at something up in the trees.

An agitated Brown Jay. Photo credit: Francis Joyce

Scanning the layers of branches, trunks and vines, you spot the object of the jays’ protests.  A margay is curled in the snag of a cedro dulce (a tree in the mahogany family), its tawny coat spotted and mottled and its ears twitching occasionally.  First blinking as if to block out  the screeches of the jays and the light of day (margays are mostly nocturnal), the margay notices you and stares with its large circular eyes.

Perhaps it stays in the tree, alert but unmoving until you go your own way, or perhaps it feels shy and slinks silently off through the matrix of branches and leaves, disappearing from sight.

Margays are one of the smallest of the five species of wild cats found in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest and the most arboreal, spending most of their lives up in trees. Over the past year, there have been multiple sightings of margays in Bajo del Tigre.  One one occasion, two margays were spotted resting together on a stump.

Margay in Bosque Eterno de los Niños
Margay in Bajo del Tigre. Photo credit: Francis Joyce.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies margays as “Near threatened,” with habitat loss contributing strongly to their decline in population.  Although the overall range of margays extends from Mexico to Uruguay and northern Argentina, the margays of Central America are genetically distinct, having evolved separately after migrating north from South America.

The Children’s Eternal Rainforest provides expanses of habitat where margays have space, prey, and safety from hunting. Your support of  Friends of the Rainforest allows us to protect habitat, conduct monitoring, and maintain trails and infrastructure that facilitate viewing and appreciation of wildlife.